Blues

Blues’ new-look midfield

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The Blues will field the midfield combination of Isaia Toeava and Anthony Tuitavake in Saturday’s semi-final against the Sharks in Durban.

Frontline inside centre Luke McAlister is out injured, and, as a result, Isaia Toeava shifts from jersey thirteen to twelve, to make space for Tuitavake, who has been a form player this season despite limited opportunities.

This is the only change to the side that brushed aside Australian upstarts the Force last weekend.

Blues coach David Nucifora says the two players compliment each other well.

“Isaia has played a lot of rugby at second five in his junior years, and Anthony has been in pretty good form most of the season and we thought deserved an opportunity to come back in at centre,” Nucifora says.

“One of the issues we faced after losing Luke [McAlister] was his kicking game, and Isaia has a very good long-kicking game, which was critical in our decision.”

Nucifora says bulky number eight Nick Williams is another key player in the expected confrontation with the aggressive Sharks pack.

“It obviously is going to be a tight, physical encounter and winning the advantage line is going to be a battle. Nick’s bulk, size and ball-carrying presence is going to be a factor for us.”

Derren Witcombe will once again start at hooker, with Keven Mealamu off the bench, in a repeat of last week’s tactical move by Nucifora.

“We are really fortunate to have two outstanding international hookers and last week we had Keven on before halftime,” Nucifora says.

“We just think Derren’s strengths lie in what he can give us in the first 30 minutes of the game, and Keven’s impact either side of halftime, and for the balance of the game, is important.”

Accomplished goalkicker and tactician David Holwell has been added to the reserves, and Angus Macdonald is preferred to Anthony Boric as cover for lock and flanker.

Rudi Wulf’s is again rewarded with selection on the left wing – ahead of Joe Rokocoko.

Nucifora says the one crucial area that could decide the game is the collision zone.

“In attack and defence if you win the collision zone against the Sharks then you start to free up quicker ball, and start to open the game up, as well as defensively you dominate them and stifle their attack.”

Blues: 15 George Pisi, 14 Doug Howlett, 13 Anthony Tuitavake, 12 Isaia Toeava, 11 Rudi Wulff, 10 Isa Nacewa, 9 Steve Devine, 8 Nick Williams, 7 Daniel Braid, 6 Jerome Kaino, 5 Troy Flavell (c), 4 Greg Rawlinson, 3 John Afoa, 2 Derren Witcombe, 1 Tony Woodcock
Replacements: 16 Keven Mealamu, 17 Nick White, 18 Angus MacDonald, 19 Justin Collins, 20 Taniela Moa, 21 David Holwell, 22 Ben Atiga

Date: Saturday, 12 May
Venue: ABSA Stadium, Durban
Kick-off: 15.00 (13.00 GMT)
Referee: Stuart Dickinson (Australia)
Touch judges: James Leckie (Australia), James Scholtens (Australia)
Television match official: Geoff Acton (Australia)
Assessor: Arrie Schoonwinkel (South Africa)

 

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